Four ingredients for “cleaning house”
Spring is less than a month away, and with the unusually warm weather we’ve been having it’s almost believable. Usually with spring you hear about things like “spring cleaning”. If you are familiar with the wholistic crowd you may also hear about doing spring cleanses, fasting, or “detoxifying”. After all, we live in an age where there are more man-made chemicals in our daily lives and environment than ever before; a growing number of them, that never used to exist in ages past, show up in the cord blood of newborn babies . As one article (of many) on the subject says in its title, they are born “Pre-Polluted”. So it makes sense that you have to do something to “detoxify”. It makes sense, right?
The thing is, that’s not the only thing that’s toxic to our health. What about the toxic effects of modern life on your health? Do you eat home prepared meals made from scratch? Or do you eat prepackaged and fast “food”? Does your job involve sitting at a desk all day? Do you skip breakfast? Do you get enough exercise? Do you get enough sleep?
Maybe this spring, instead of taking stuff away by using the typical techniques of/for fasting and “cleansing” or “detoxifying”, you need to add something instead, to provide the nutrients your body needs to support it’s own processes of detoxification.
Did you know that your body has several built-in ways to detoxify? You may already know about the role of the colon for this, but your body also uses the kidneys, the liver, the lungs, and even the skin as avenues of detoxification. Pretty much anywhere that your body can excrete substances to rid them from itself is an avenue of detoxification. So, bile, urine, feces, breath, and even sweat are candidates for this process.
So, how about this for a Detox Recipe?
Move your body, and make it sweat – If you don’t move your body then you are diminishing it’s ability to detoxify naturally. For example, if you sit in front of a desk all day and don’t get any exercise how is your body going to sweat enough to get rid of some of the heavy metals that sweat can get rid of? You could include relaxing in a sauna to get your body to sweat. Moving your body is still an important part of detoxing though because moving helps stimulate circulation and lymphatic flow, which helps move those toxins to where they can be excreted.
Eat colourful, antioxidant rich, organic foods from nature – The other thing that needs to be addressed when discussing detoxification is food. Most people who come to my practice tell me that they eat a healthy diet, but when we take a look at their food habits and choices there is always something that could use improvement. Usually a lot of things! Admittedly, mine could use tweaking too. One simple way to start addressing this is to use more herbs and spices in your cooking. Things like Turmeric, Ginger, Dandelions, and Nettles can be really easy things to add.
First, if you don’t eat breakfast that’s the first thing to change. Now some of you will say, but I don’t feel good if I force myself to eat breakfast. Think about, what is breakfast? It is the breaking of a fast. In other words, it is the first meal after going without food for all the hours that you slept. Breakfast is not a time of day. Second, what you use to break your fast doesn’t need to be heavy. You could start with a nutritious cup of hot or cold nettle infusion (I prefer it with peppermint mixed in myself). You could start with a nutritious smoothie. You could also try a nice fresh home prepared vegetable juice. You could try breaking your fast, initially, with nothing more than a nice glass of (healthy) mineral rich water. Then move on to something more substantial shortly after that. This year during my own fast/detox I’m planning on seeing how it goes having nutritious homemade soups in the morning rather than the modern traditional breakfast fair.
Second, what is good healthy food? Well, if it comes in a box it likely doesn’t count! That includes the supposedly healthy granola bars, etc. that you find in isles of boxes in the health food store, that are packed full of things like “organic cane juice”. Added sugar is still sugar and is best to avoid wherever possible. Healthy food comes from nature and includes fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and for some, meat, dairy, and eggs. The problem is, with GMOs, and conventional modern farming practices, just how healthy are these “healthy foods”? For example most store bought fertilizers for the gardener show three numbers on the package (i.e. 20 -20-20); these numbers represent the proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the product. Does it make the plants grow? Sure! I often use the metaphor that it’s like feeding children lots of sugar – they get bigger too, just like plants do on these fertilizers. The question is, how many nutrients are really in the vegetables? Broccoli is supposed to be a good source of calcium but when grown this way does it really have all that it should in it?
There is an old saying, “you are what you eat”, well that applies to what your food eats too, whether the food is plants or animals. So, I guess you could say, “you are what your food eats”. For this reason organic is the way to go, although with some of the rules around organic farming you don’t always get what you think you do, it’s at least a step in the right direction. One exception I would make is organic chicken, which is organic because the chickens are fed organic grain, and grain is not the natural food of chickens, a creature designed for eating greens, bugs, worms, etc. and scratching around outside in nature to get these things.
Third, a couple other things that are usually missing from client diet’s are fermented foods and healthy fats. Fermented foods include kefir, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, home made sauerkraut, and many others. These are the fermented foods with healthy bacteria in them. These little guys are incredibly important for the health of your immune system, your mental health, your weight control, your nutrient absorption, and so much more. Including a variety of different ones goes a long way in aiding your body with the building blocks of good health and increasing its ability to detoxify.
Healthy fats are essential for absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A and D, but also for many other processes in the body. Fats are also known as lipids, and lipids are what the outer membrane of most of your cells are made of. What are healthy fats? I usually suggest extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, sesame oil, wild salmon oil, cod liver oil, and sometimes avocado oil. So, Avocados, wild Salmon, Sesame seeds, etc. are all great foods to add to your detoxification recipe.
Spend time outdoors in Nature – The modern life requires most of us to spend much of our time indoors, yet sunlight is a very important source of vitamin D. There is growing concern about modern children and Nature Deficit Disorder, but what about the adults? In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv talks about how this deficit may be linked to depression, obesity, and attention disorders. If it’s important for children then isn’t it important for everyone?
Drink good, clean, mineral rich water – No not those vitamin waters they sell at the store, just plain water that hasn’t been distilled. Distillation removes everything and you want the healthy minerals from water. Water is an important part of detoxification; this is where your kidneys come into play. Your body is made up of approximately 65% water, so it’s really important to provide water for flushing toxins and to replenish! If you really feel you need to flavour it then use things like organic lemons, limes, peppermint, or nettle to do so. Drink it at whatever temperature feels best to you and your body.
There you have it! A recipe for detoxing with only four ingredients in it:
- Move your body and make it sweat
- Eat colourful, antioxidant rich, organic foods from nature
- Spend time outdoors in Nature
- Drink good, clean water
A good prescription for living, but excellent things to concentrate on this spring when doing your own spring cleaning.
- http://environmentaldefence.ca/prepolluted> (accessed Feb 24/15).
- Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2011 Aug ;61(2):344-57 / J Environ Public Health. 2012 ;2012:184745. Epub 2012 Feb 22. / J Environ Public Health. 2012 ;2012:185731. / ScientificWorldJournal. 2012 ;2012:615068. Epub 2012 Oct 31.